Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 3, 2008
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days





So far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has had time to see the following films. Here are his ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


Sylvain RichardAmong Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Bang Rajan; Thai 2000 by Tanit Jitnukal, The Eye; Thai 2002 by Oxide & Dany Pang, In my Skin; France 2002 by Marina DeVan, Immortel; France 2004 by Enki Bilal, Natural City; Korea 2003 by Byung - Chun Min, Behind The Mask; USA 2006 by Scott Glosserman, Good Cop Bad Cop; Canada 2006 by Eric Canuel , Wild Blue Yonder; Germany 2006 by Werner Herzog, The Ferryman; New Zealand 2007 by Chris Graham, Zebraman; Japan 2004 by Takashie Miike).

3.1 -- TRUFFE, Kim Nguyen
Big budget black comedy addressing environmental concerns, fine performances from who's who of Quebec's thespians, a director to keep your eye on.

Over the top campy take on spaghetti western juxtaposed on British War of the Roses, Japanese performers speaking in heavy English accent, stylistically typical of Miike's earlier work, time shifting sometimes confusing but very enjoyable film.

3.3 -- LA ANTENA (THE AERIAL), Estaban Sapir
An allegory of town whose voice was stolen. Surreal, black and white, excellent score. Hints of Fritz Lang and Guy Madden.

1.0 -- A LOVE, Kwak Kyung-Taek
Difficult to read, stilted subtitles. Unconvincing love story, poor character development.

Story of awkwardly shy boy subject to taunting and cruelty who gets his revenge. Flash backs difficult to follow.

3.0 -- THE PYI-DOG, Derek Kwok
Mob tale enhanced by sentimental dimension. Boy is conscripted by mob to take revenge. Tautly directed, fine performances, good score.

2.0 -- ART OF THE DEVIL 3, by Ronin Team
Tale of Thai black magic. Greedy magician has absorbed black magic which is now consumming him. Interesting concept not fully realized.

Six animated visions of the Gotham night. Similar to Animatrix but very ordinary.

2.7 -- BABY'S ROOM, Alex de la Iglesia
Trademark Iglesia off the wall humour; all is fine with young couple and newborn until noises are heard. Fine acting, well directed.

2.7 -- TO LET, Jaume Balaguero
Young parents are offered appartment by pleasant landlady, but something isn't right. Suspense well handled.

2.1 -- DISCIPLES OF THE 36TH CHAMBER, Shaw Brothers
Like previous Shaw Brothers martial arts films shown@Fantasia, this was a crowd pleaser. Enhanced by guest actor +Kill Bill - Gordon Liu. A disjointed film for die-hards only; sub-paar acting.

2.4 -- LE GRAND CHEF, Geon Yun-Su
Typical Korean humour and subplots made this a joy to watch. Cooking contest is called to determine rightful heir to "Royal Chef." Main plot poorly handled.

Low budget Indie whose title says it all. No CGI was used. Pure entertaining fun. Robert Eglund as the Professor/Monster gives a stunning performance.

1.8 -- MOTHER OF TEARS, Dario Argento
A crew moving the contents of a church graveyard unearth a coffin with an urn chained to it. The urn is sent to a museum in Rome. Upon opening it, a powerful cruel witch is unleashed.
The acting (specifically that of Asia's) was poor & the dialog seemed forced.

3.1 -- GENIUS PARTY, Studio 4* C (* = degree symbol)
Wide ranging anime of 7 short works + opening credits. Beautiful images, powerful music & imaginations bordering on genius make this collective one to look for in future.

2.9 -- [REC], Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plazawak
A TV profile of the Barcelona Fire Department in action. Routine call to help an elderly lady screaming in her apartment. They enter & find themselves facing a situation that no training could have prepared them for. Shot in the same style as Blair Witch & Cloverfield. Very intense & frightening.

Boy, girl & giant with a chainsaw as hand intent on battling the girl. Weak plot & character development = So What.

3.1 -- LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, Tomas Alfredson
Oskar (12) meets Eli (12). She's a vampire & needs blood to prevent her body from deteriorating. One of the best vampire movies ( apart from 1922's Nosferatu, of course) I have seen. Vampire mythology adhered to yet updated in surprising ways. Tightly scripted & directed. The 2 leads were natural & credible.

2.2 -- TIMECRIME, Nacho Vigalondo
Science fiction: A man caught in an increasingly complex time loop. Intriguing subject, inconclusive ending.

2.0 -- THE SUBSTITUTE, Ole Bornedal
Why don't adults believe their children when they say something isn't right with their new teacher. She must be an alien. Humourous but too predictable.

2.6 -- BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY, Jin Kwang-Kyo
A corrupt cop, obsessive infatuation, a study of human psyche and wounded conscience creates in viewer a sense of unease and beauty that comes from facing the truth. Top notch cinematography, fine performances.

3.2 -- WIDE AWAKE, Lee Kyoo-Man
Very promising debut film. Gripping, complex thriller about a man who as a boy was wide awake during an operation. Compelling piano based score, startling images. Well edited.

2.5 -- MAD DETECTIVE, Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai
Psychological thriller about detective with unique method of solving crimes: he sees inner spirits. Superb acting throughout. The complexity of characters made film hard to follow which is typical of Johnnie To's films. Should be seen twice.

3.4 -- THE ASSEMBLY, Feng Xiaogang
Historical Chinese war drama (civil war of 1948). Thoroughly engrossing; beautifully shot on location. Superb acting, taut direction, easy to read subtitles. Anti-war film.

2.6 -- EPITAPH, Jeong Beom-sik
Confusing psychological horror film that threatens to become a nightmare. Fine acting and editing and score but ultimately disjointed.

1.3 -- THE OBJECTIVE, Daniel Myrick
Political thriller whose thrills are all too predictable. Fails to deliver on early promise. Blair Witch fans will be disappointed big time, especially stilted dialogue.

3.0 -- SMALL GAUGE TRAMA, collection of 11 shorts
Annual collection of edgy, audacious, unforgettable shorts from around the world. Some disturbing adult content: mutilation, Zombie, revenge. Perfect fit for Fantasia mandate.

2.8 -- ACCURACY OF DEATH, Masaya Kakei
Comedy fantasy of grim reaper that follows the life of a young, attractive woman with low self-esteem. Compares favourably to Death Diary. Exquisite cinematography, compelling leading performances.

1.6 -- HOME MOVIE, Christophner Denham
Reality horror horribly done. Script lacking in credibility. Acting average. Film was too short in that its main themes weren't sufficiently fleshed out: some very good humour. Debut from director whose next film should be better.

2.8 -- ADRIFT IN TOKYO, Satoshi Miki
Pedestrian road trip. Debt collector proposes 'walkabout' through Tokyo to one of his clients. Excellent chemistry between two leading actors, augmented by the many zany characters they meet along the way. Atypical but engaging road film, showing humane side of Tokyo rarely seen.

2.6 -- SHADOWS IN THE PALACE, Kim Mee-Jung
Medieval Korean Royal Court drama featuring murder and intrique and spectacular costumes and touch of para-normal. Promising debut film; Kim, who wrote the script, handles her material deftly. Keep in mind Royal Court films risk courting boredom.

1.5 -- X-CROSS, Kenta Fukasaku
Horror. Two friends are vacationing in hot springs resort in obscure village. Borrows from The Wickerman but laughably cliched. Disjointed, predictable script.

2.5 -- BAD BIOLOGY, Frank Henenlotter
Sexual allegory featuring mutant freaks of nature. Excellent animatronics. Director intended to make a sick, perverse and outrageous adult film -- and succeded. Good fun but not for everyone. Compares favourably to Lloyd Kaufman's films.

3.7 -- L:CHANGE THE WORLD, Hideo Nakata
Thrilling addition to Death Note series. Highly creative treatment of subject. An extremely infectious virus is about to be unleashed upon the world. Excellent acting, editing, cinematography, script -- potential to become a classic. Definetly intend to see the whole series again.

Extremely violent, sexually charged comedic slasher film with a bit of a twist. Crazed serial killers stalk a coven of gorgeous witches in an isolated cabin in the woods. Pure entertaining fun.

1.2 -- CHANBARA BEAUTY, Yohei Fukuda
A marshal arts zombie action B movie that tries & fails to be taken seriously. Totally unconvincing.

2.3 -- ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, Jonathan Devine
Slasher film that shatters all standard conventions. Mandy is a dreamily georgeus girl who is the object of all the boys. Average acting, plot & editing yet film is a joy to watch. Becomes too predictable half way thru.

1.7 -- SHAMO, Soi Cheang
Drama involving a young man jailed for killing his parents, who takes up karate for self defense & then hits the Thai Boxing circuit. Just couldn"t get into it. Lacked excitement.

2.4 -- TOKYO GORE POLICE, Yoshiro Nishimura
Extreme gore (not enough according to director who was hosting). Excellent score. Plot not clearly defined yet there semed to be some "hidden message?" The hall was packed to over capacity. Reactions were loud. Q & A animated.

2.4 -- ROBO ROCK, Taikan Suga
Crazy comedy involving the mob, 2 pawns & a geek obsessed with finding a huge robot that will save the world from aliens. Fantasy elements make this good family viewing. If you liked Ultraman you'll like this.

2.7 -- THE CHASING WORLD, Issai Shibata
SciFi involving parallel worlds where everyone surnamed Sato are getting killed. The king is dressed in a Darth Vader costume. Recalls TV series Sliders. Excellent handling of a complex subject. Excellent score. Acting, script & editing slightly above average.

2.5 -- BE A MAN: SAMURAI SCHOOL, Tak Sakaguchi
A hilarious marshal arts comedy made so thru exageration about first year students trying to get thru a Samurai school. Repetitive in parts. Editing sub paar.

Documentary on W. Castle. Professional handling of subject makes me want to learn more and to seek out WC's films (Rosemary's Baby, The House on the Haunted Hill). Difficult to read identifiers. Insightful interviews and stills, well researched, humourous.

2.1 -- NO MERCY FOR THE RUDE, Park Choel-Hie
Quirky, Asian action comedy about mute professional hitman. Debut film. Meandering script, unconvincing acting. Very funny with top notch score.

3.2 -- AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS, Tony Ching Siu-tung
Medieval war epic set against the lush Chinese landscape with ever-present orchestral score equal to the film's emotional extremes. Similar in scope to Spartacus and Troy. Subtitled in English and Chinese. Tour de force directorially.

1.9 -- STUCK, Stuart Gordon
Black social satire of two people both having bad days, literally colliding. Unconvincing script, sub paar acting, somewhat redeemed by ever-present humour.

3.6 -- MAY 18TH, Kim Ji-hun
Powerfully told historical drama of military invasion of Guangkiu (1980). Excellent ensemble performances, riveting script. Compares to his earlier Slimieo (2003).

2.1 -- THE REBEL, Truc Charlie Nguyen
Historical drama taking place in Viet Nam (1922). Sub paar acting, technical errors in lighting, editing, colour and subtitles; nonethess, director shows promise.

1.6 -- DARK FLOORS, Pete Riski
Horror, stunning visual and creature effects but no story or purpose: all style, no substance.

2.7 -- THE ECHO, Yam Laranas
Chilling psychological horror recalling Juon; The Grudge. Striking sound effects, deliciously creepy, especially for an American film.

2.2 -- LA TUER, Cedric Anger
Directorial debut. Film noir of a business man who has a contract put out on him who makes a counter proposal to the hit man. An uneven film when at it's best, points to a director with considerable potential.

2.5 -- GOING BY THE BOOK, Ra Hee-chan
Comedic farce about a cop who goes stictly by the book. Flashse of Keystone cops. Not a classic yet good fun.

1.8 -- SPECIAL MAGNUM, Alberto DeMartino
Typical 1970s exploitation action film featuring some well known actors (John Saxon, Carole Laure). Too predictable.

3.0 -- ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, Nikolaj Arcel
Three adolesents battle a malevolent necromancer. If you enjoy Harry Potter films you will enjoy this Danish entry. Fine acting, good special effects, engaging story.

3.1 -- 7 DAYS, Won Sin-yeon
Thriller involving a complex murder case & defense lawyer's daughter being kidnapped. Brilliant acting & powerful score combine to create a suspenseful & convincing film.

2.6 -- 4BIA, 4 directors
Four completly different takes on the horror genre from 4 of Thailand's film makers: 1 set of credits. Each part held its own.

1.2 --SASORI, Joe Ma
Martial arts drama of an escaped female convict seeking revenge. A common subject (ex Lady Vengence, Kill Bill). Disjointed script & outlandish fight sequences.

2.5 -- HUNTING GROUNDS, Eric Bilodeau
Average DIY zombie film with a touch of science fiction.

3.5 -- TUNNEL RATS, Uwe Boll
Brutal, violent yet honest & humane depiction of 1968 war torn Vietnam. Tunnels were the underground used by the Viet Cong. Disturbingly realistic a la Deer Hunter. Excellent performances and cinematography. A film destined to garner awards.

2.6 -- VOICE OF A MURDERER, Park Jin-pyo
Thriller about a couple agonizing over the kidnapping of their son. Similar to 7 Days but not as convincing. Too many distracting subplots; music sometimes off the mark.

3.2 -- ALONE, Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoon Wongpoon
Psychological thriller about young woman haunted by death of co-joined twin after separation. More mature than their first film "Shutter." Brilliant script, outstanding performance by leading actress almost undone by almost unreadable subtitles. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
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